Affiliated to FIFA since 1978, Rwanda took part in their first FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign in 1998. That initial foray ended at the first hurdle, as did the side's next four attempts, and the Amavubi (Wasps) will be hoping for a breakthrough on the road to Russia 2018, having failed to record a single victory in six group stage games ahead of Brazil 2014.
Rwanda's major tournament experience is limited at every level, with the nation only able to look back on a place at the 2004 CAF Africa Cup of Nations and a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011. The current senior line-up draws heavily on the generation who travelled to Mexico for that latter competition, with defenders Michel Rusheshangoga and Emery Bayisenge among the youngsters to make the step up, while Rwanda's two biggest clubs APR and Rayon Sports also continue to furnish talent. Most Amavubi players past and present have had stints at one or both of the heavyweight outfits, including current veterans Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza, Jean-Claude Iranzi and Haruna Niyonzima.
Born in 1985, Northern Irish tactician Johnny McKinstry is younger than several of his players, and he is one of the least experienced coaches involved in African qualifying. However, while his professional credentials may be limited, he is not short of managerial know-how, having started coaching at the age of 16, teaching children the ropes before church every Sunday. McKinstry steered Sierra Leone into the top 50 of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking but had to leave his post during the Ebola epidemic, after which he accepted a new challenge at the Rwanda helm.
25 – The record number of goals scored for Rwanda by Olivier Karekezi, the country's most prolific player on the international stage. Unfortunately for the Amavubi, the forward retired from international duty in 2013.
The former stars
Desire Mbobabucya, Hamad Ndikumana, Olivier Karekezi